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LAist Interview: Jim and Michelle of Atomic Ranch

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Three years ago, Jim Brown and his wife Michelle Gringeri-Brown decided their love of mid-century ranch homes was too much to keep to themselves. With years of experience in publishing, they founded Atomic Ranch, a glossy, independent magazine that's as gorgeously photographed as the high-end home and design magazines from New York. But Atomic Ranch is from South Pasadena, and instead of focusing on "starchitect" homes features houses that are just as striking without the name brand designers. And rather than writing in the reverent whisper of a museum, the magazine is lighthearted and fun — a bedroom in the latest issue is described as "ginormous." The first Atomic Ranch coffee table book is due out this fall.

Age and occupation
Jim Brown: I'm 55 and have been a freelance photographer for 10 years. I'm now the publisher/photographer at Atomic Ranch. Spent 17 years at Petersen Publishing in the Photo Dept.
Michelle Gringeri-Brown: 53; Atomic Ranch editor

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Home town:
Jim: Los Angeles.
Michelle: I grew up in Sierra Madre, which still has no traffic signals

How long have you lived in LA, and where? What's your current LA neighborhood?
Jim: All my life; born and raised. Grew up in South Central and moved to Westchester/Playa del Rey for high school.
Michelle: Except for a year each in Minnesota and Massachusetts, all my life. We live in South Pasadena.

What made you decide to found Atomic Ranch magazine?
Jim: Michelle and I had this realization that there was a gap in the magazine racks; no one was addressing (at least on a consistent basis) the needs or community of modest midcentury housing at a national level.

Michelle: The millions of people who live in ranch houses needed a resource for renovating, furnishing and landscaping their homes. We decided to focus on "regular" houses instead of starchitect designed homes like the Case Study series that are covered ably by other titles. We wanted to help start a club, in effect, for homeowners who love their ranch houses and want to read about what like-minded people have done to their places.

Define "atomic ranch."
Jim: It's a playful juxtaposition, like "supersonic oatmeal." Atomic ranches were/are forward thinking, affordable midcentury homes. It's also our magazine — unpretentious, slightly funny, respectful of home owners and the emotions that homes engender.

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Michelle: A 1948-1970s ranch house, both Modernist designs such as Eichlers and Alexanders, as well as traditional clapboard, brick and stucco houses. Ranches are primarily single story, but also include split-levels and are know as ramblers, ranchers and traditionals in various parts of the US. They often have an open floor plan with a combined living, dining and kitchen area, and large expanses of glass on the rear facade.